National Eating Disorders Association

#NEDA2016 Conference Recap – Part 2!

Diana Denza, Communications Associate

The 2016 NEDA Conference may be over, but the lasting friendships and memories will stay with attendees long after they depart Chicago. The day kicked off with members of our Family Panel sharing insights on their experiences with eating disorders, recovery and treatment.

After listening to their powerful stories of hope and recovery, attendees headed off to concurrent sessions. In The Dirty Side of Clean Eating: The Risk It Poses to Recovery, Kristine Ives, MA, LPC, LMFT and Janelle Smith, MS, RDN discussed when clean eating – defined as the avoidance of certain foods, food groups and processing techniques – can turn into disordered eating.

Clean eating becomes disordered when caloric restriction, anxiety about food, significant weight loss, social isolation, bineging and/or compensatory behaviors (like vomiting and use of laxatives) are present. We tend to encounter clean eating messages through family and friends, social media, celebrities, educational institutions and fitspo.

At the heart of clean eating lies a need for purity, the desire to fix inherent flaws, OCD or anxiety disorders and black and white thinking. As Smith aptly stated, “When things are divided into good and bad, clean eating can turn into disordered eating.”

When it comes to relationships, both Smith and Ives emphasized the need for boundaries. For example, if a friend is engaging in disordered eating, it can be necessary to ask them not to comment on your plate of food or move away from the friendship entirely. And if you are struggling, it is important to reach out for help from your doctor or treatment team.

Another of the day’s highlights included Intersectional Struggles and Recovery: Affirmative Care for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People by Ethan Lopez, Jaden Fields, Dan Maldonado and Marcella Raimondo, PhD, MPH.

This workshop provided an overview of the gender spectrum and reiterated the importance of intersectionality when it comes to studying eating disorders. Trans people are disproportionately affected by eating disorders, but many trans and gender-diverse communities face major barriers to treatment, including a lack of access to services and discrimination from healthcare providers.

The trans experience can involve isolation and depression, racism, poverty, internalized transphobia, parental rejection, incarceration, disability, state-sanctioned forms of violence and much more. These are often contributing factors to maladaptive coping mechanisms, including eating disorders.

The panelists emphasized that there is little research on trans people and eating disorders, and existing research lacks an intersectional lens, sometimes suggests transition is a “cure,” and can promote the gender binary. They encouraged panelists to advertise in LGBTQ spaces, network at LGBTQ events, utilize social media and to be mindful of the boxes on forms (for example, requiring patients to check off a box labeled “male” or “female”). For more information and resources, visit T-FFED.

Other sessions of note included:

  • Suicide and Eating Disorders: What You Need to Know, But Have Been Afraid to Ask by Nicole Siegfried, PhD, CEDS and Chelsea Albus, MSW, LMSW
  • Why the Health At Every Size Paradigm Matters by Judith Matz, MSW, LCSW and Carmen Cool, MA, LCP
  • Does our Advocacy Reinforce ED Myths? Learning From Other Mental Health Campaigns by Erin Parks, PhD and Lisa Sabey

Congratulations to our 2016 Award Recipients:

  • Don and Melissa Nielsen Lifetime Achievement Award | Cynthia Bulik, PhD
  • The Craig Johnson Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice and Training | Stewart Agras, MD
  • The Lori Irving Award for Excellence in Eating Disorders Prevention and Awareness | C. Barr Taylor, MD
  • The Robbie Munn Volunteer of the Year Award | Joanna Kay Mercuri

For a full list of today’s informative sessions and to learn more about the 2016 NEDA Conference, visit

This year’s Conference was again a huge success and we want to thank our presenters, attendees and all of the dedicated volunteers who helped ensure that the Conference ran smoothly!

Photo courtesy of T-FFED